Editor’s Note: Mtbr welcomes longtime forum member Kent Robertson to the front page. Kent — or KRob — has been riding and evaluating bikes for two decades. This year, he and testing partner Ben Slabaugh headed to Moab, Utah, for the annual Outerbike consumer demo event where they rode as many bikes as possible. These posts are first ride impressions only — not full reviews. However, they stand by their opinions, and feel like they are good at feeling out the true identity, strengths, weaknesses, and soul of any given bike. For each session, they attempted to get set-up and suspension as dialed as possible. Test rides usually last 30-60 minutes. All bikes are then rated on a scale of 1-5 for visual impression/looks, climbing ability, descending, cornering, general agility, fit, and an intangible factor. Lowest possible score is 7. Highest is 35.
I’ve been trying to get a ride on the Ibis Ripley LS since it was announced last year. We loved the original Ripley we rode two years ago. It was nimble, responsive, and just loved to stand and hammer. Here’s a link to our review of that bike.
It was a tad short in the cockpit and a little steep in the head angle, but was so fun to ride we were willing to overlook these faults. It was the first 29er we’d ridden that made us want to, gasp, ride a 29er. Well, at least, until we heard about the geometry updates on the longer and slacker LS. With a degree and a half slacker head angle and 1.5″ longer front center and slightly lower bottom bracket, it sounded perfect for some aggressive all-trail shenanigans.
Other frame updates include improved internal cable routing, increased tire clearance, a return to threaded bottom bracket, seat mast lowered by 1/2” to accommodate today’s longer droppers, boost 148mm x 12mm Shimano through axle, and stiffer eccentric cores.
Out on the trail the first thing that was apparent is that the Ripley LS has not lost the fun, playful, quick-handling nature of the original. It still bobbed and weaved through tight, curvy single track with a nimbleness usually reserved for smaller wheeled bikes. The longer wheelbase did not seem to slow it down in the curves. The size large frame, flat wide bar, and short stem created a perfect seated and standing environment from which to do business.
It felt comfortable, yet still allowed for an aggressive, head-over-bars position for weighting the front wheel when leaning into corners. The few short climbs we did on our test loop were dispatched with ease, usually standing and just staying in a taller gear and hammering up. Once pointed downward, the LS was confident and tracked through rocks and chunder with confidence and stability. For just 120mm of travel the rear end felt surprisingly controlled and plush.
Never been to Outerbike? Find out what this consumer demo event is all about.
Frame construction appeared top notch and looked gorgeous. The rear end was stiffer than I remembered from the original thanks to the new beefed up boost rear triangle. The Ripley, like most Ibis bikes, is a clean, uncluttered design. The new cable routing looks intuitive and was free of rattles. The threaded bottom bracket was free of squeaks and creaks.
We were really impressed with the Ripley LS. It is a well-sorted bike that did everything well, and looked good doing it. The ideal buyer would be someone looking for a light, responsive all-trail 29er that feels more like a 27.5 while popping and playing, yet still displays those desirable 29er traits on rolling, up and down trails, and in choppy, rocky momentum sapping terrain.
Outerbike Test Session Score: 33 out of 35
For more information visit www.ibiscycles.com.